Previously Cambodia's ambassador to UNESCO, he was named by a nine-member
throne council as Sihanouk's successor. The then Prince Sihamoni was best
known for his work as a cultural ambassador in Europe and his keen support
for the arts. He was sent to Prague, Czechoslovakia by his father in 1962,
where he, while attending elementary school and Academy of Music Arts,
studied classical dance and music until 1975. During the 1970 coup d'etat
by Lon Nol, Sihamoni remained in Czechoslovakia. in 1975, he left Prague
and began to study filmmaking in North Korea, and in 1977 returned to
his native Cambodia.
Immediately, the ruling Khmer Rouge government turned against the monarchy,
and Sihamoni was put under house arrest with the rest of the royal family
until 1979. In 1981, he moved to France to teach ballet and he was later
president of the Khmer Dance Association. He lived in France for nearly
20 years, but even then he regularly visited Prague, where he spent his
childhood and youth. He has lived most of his life outside Cambodia.
In 1993 the prince was appointed Cambodian delegate to UNESCO, the UN
cultural body based in Paris, where he became known for his hard work
and his devotion to Cambodia.
On October 14, 2004, he was selected by a special nine-member council,
part of selection process after the abdication of His Majesty Norodom
Sihamoni's selection was endorsed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and National
Assembly Speaker Prince Nordom Ranariddh (Sihamoni's brother), both members
of the throne council. He was crowned in Phnom Penh on October 29. He
remains a bachelor and has no children, which means that he does not have
a direct successor. However, this is not a problem as the king in Cambodia
is selected by the throne council.
Norodom Sihamoni speaks Khmer, French, Czech, English and Russian. He
is the first Czech speaking monarch after Ferdinand I of Austria.